Woman with learning disability loses legal fight to keep children – The Guardian

A woman with a “very significant” learning disability has lost the latest round of a legal fight over the care of her two children.

Two court of appeal judges have backed a family court judge’s decision and concluded that the pair, a boy aged 11 and a seven-year-old girl, should go into long-term foster care.

Details of the case have emerged in a ruling by Sir James Munby, president of the family division of the high court, and Lord Justice McFarlane, after a hearing in the court of appeal in central London.

The judges did not identify the family involved, but said social services bosses at Devon county council had responsibility for the children’s welfare.

They heard the children lived with their mother at their maternal grandmother’s home. Their father, who was also described as having a very significant learning disability, lived elsewhere but had regular contact with them.

Social workers said they had been concerned for a number of years that the children were being neglected and “failing to thrive”.

Judge Richard Melville had analysed evidence at a private family court hearing in Plymouth and concluded that the children were being “dragged and held back” and were likely to suffer significant harm. The woman challenged that decision in the appeal court.

Edward Devereux QC, who led the woman’s legal team, argued that Melville had failed to carry out sufficient analysis on whether removing the children from their mother’s care was necessary and proportionate.

But Munby and McFarlane dismissed the woman’s appeal. McFarlane said it was not possible to see how the children could be protected from future harm if they lived with their mother, adding “there could be only one outcome”.

Munby, the most senior family court judge in England and Wales, said he agreed.


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